Don Oliver has a couple of Comrades Training plans. One for the runners from Central Gauteng area in South Africa, and other for the Western Province. Though the plans are more or less similar in nature, the distances in the Central Gauteng one are considerably longer that the other one. I have been following the Wester Province plan for most of my training, which has the 3 training ultras as 50K-56K-56K which the Western Province on had 50K-56K-65K.
I intended to do a final long training run of 65K, even though the plan had 56K, just for the sake of experiencing longer distances before Comrades. I went to Dehradun to get some better weather and running conditions. The Forest Campus in Doon has a nice loop of about 5K with steady, gradual uphill till halfway into the loop and then a gradual decline to the starting point.
I started the run at about 6:30 pm in the evening, and it was pretty comfortable even in this hot weather. I went in with sufficient quantity of Electral water, plain water and Coke, and energy bars as well. The lunch got pretty late and it was probably beyond 3:00pm by the time it has finished, and I could feel it when I started. It was like the food was right up pressing against my chest or something, and it felt uncomfortable. I don’t know why, but I started with a target to do most of my running at a 6:30/K pace, at least as long as I can hold it. I guess these were two mistakes even before I was seriously into the run. By the time I had hit the 21K mark, it was already getting uncomfortable.
20K to 30K was tough but okay as I continued pushing forward, though the 6:30 pace was no longer in picture. I guess I had really messed my plan with these couple of mistakes. As I was hitting the 30K mark, I already was feeling as if I was done. 30K to 40K was a haunting. I was just wondering all the time when I will stop, trying to push my body as far as I could. 65K was definitely out of the picture. Running alone in the night with no company and no one in sight was not the best situation in encouragement (though I am well past that as a requirement, but some company would have helped no doubt). As it went past midnight, it became horrible, and I simply folded up after doing 40K.
So, well that kind of left my Comrades training a bit short for the key runs. On the hindsight, I think that the mental challenge I encountered on this 40K run, particularly after the 42K run in Nehru Park just two weeks back will add something which will be of use at Comrades. Only time will tell.